US SUPREME COURT RULES THAT LAW BANNING REGISTRATIONS OF “SCANDALOUS” TRADEMARKS VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT

On June 24, 2019, the United States Supreme Court said that “The Lanham Act’s prohibition of ‘immoral or scandalous’ trademarks violates the First Amendment.” In other words, free speech beat out the Lanham Act, which is the governing law regarding trademarks.

Entrepreneur Erik Brunetti started the clothing brand FUCT in 1990. It stands for “Friends You Can’t Trust”, and he started it in order to question authority and assumptions of society. It is pronounced like the past tense of a certain profanity. Brunetti wants to gain protection in the mark and expand rights against others trying to use his mark.

Why is this case such a big deal?

Now people can register certain trademarks that may have been deemed “immoral or scandalous” in the past. In this particular case, it is a mark that sounds like a swear word. I will not be surprised to see more and more trademark registrations that sound like swears popping up.

The trademark game has changed.

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